Thursday, July 21, 2005

Protecting the World from Poor Journalism, One Blogger at a Time

That sometimes seems to be the mission of more 'traditional' media outlets that rarely miss an opportunity to disparage the works of the pajama-wearing hordes. There's another way of reading that, though, with the blogger as watchdog. The irony, of course, is that the blogging world has turned out to be far more effective, collectively, at correcting factual errors and spotting bias than any ombudsman could ever hope to be.

A perfect case in point is this piece from Mike Krempasky at Red State, who has been very actively involved in the battle over potential FEC regulation of blogs. Krempasky brings his expertise to bear on a piece at the Columbia Journalism Review that is so riddled with errors as to be practically worthless from an informative standpoint. Indeed, the author misses the mark so badly that his conclusions are the exact opposite of what an informed writer would conclude.

Where, I ask you, would the corrective had been prior to blogs? Who would have known that the story was 180 degrees from the truth? Sure, there were letters to the editor, but by the time the letter was read, responded to, and published, most people who read the original piece would have moved to greener pastures.

That still happens today, of course...after all, not everyone who reads the CJR piece will read Krempasky's response. Indeed, most won't...but every person who does will come away with a more informed outlook on the issues at question, and a healthy skepticism towards believing everything they read, even from supposed fonts of journalistic integrity.

Is there a lot of crap on the Internet? Good God,'s 98% crap. Yet we've come to understand the hard way that the same is true of any other medium (Dan Rather, anyone? Bill Moyer? Seymour Hersh? Kitty Kelley?). There is a symbiotic relationship between the MSM and the blogs, and the MSM resents that, seeing no reason to concede such power to upstarts (what power? Ask Rather or Jonathan Klein...). The power is not theirs to concede, though; ultimately, blogging is another step in the democratization of information. More voices, ironically, bring more clarity, as all sides are forced to consider the implications of false (even unintentionally false) information.

In other words, get your facts straight...or there will be a Krempasky somewhere to correct you, and if he's wrong, someone else will let him know. How is that not a good thing? If what we're ultimately after is truth, the more seekers, the better...

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